When such challenges have presented themselves in head coaching stops during his 33-year career, Gary Adkins has almost enjoyed a Midas touch when it’s come to turning around struggling football programs.
Adkins is hopeful of generating similar results at Abbeville High School after accepting the school’s vacant position and gaining approval of the Vermilion Parish School Board on Thursday evening.
The Wildcats, who were previously coached by Chris Towery, were 1-19 over the past two seasons and last reached the state playoffs in 2010. Towery resigned Monday evening to accept a coaching position in the Houston area.
“As soon as I saw the job opening, it sort of hit home,” said Adkins, who guided Sacred Heart-Ville Platte to a 5-5 record last year. “The thing that intrigued me about the job was that it reminded me of Port Allen, Donaldsonville and St. Martinville when I first went to those schools. They had been struggling and we went in there and got some things corrected, got those programs up and running, and made the playoffs.”
Adkins managed to elevate Port Allen, Donaldsonville and St. Martinville in a relatively short period of time, leading Port Allen to the playoffs in his third season, Donaldsonville in two years and St. Martinville in his first season.
“He had head coaching experience in turning programs around, which is what is needed,” Abbeville Principal Ivy Landry said. “Gary has a fire to work hard to do what is needed to have a successful program.”
Adkins, who played for legendary coach Red Franklin at Haynesville, will embark on his 34th year of coaching and 27th as a head coach, where he’s won 141 games.
Abbeville represents his eighth school as a head coach along with Bishop Sullivan (now St. Michael the Archangel), White Castle and Oak Grove in addition to aforementioned schools.
“I can’t say enough good things about the kids and people in the community at Sacred Heart,” Adkins said. “I hated to leave but I felt this job was a very good fit for me and I think I’m a good fit for them.”
Adkins acknowledged the timing of the move wasn’t the most advantageous but wouldn’t allow it to deter his process of getting a coaching staff organized, meeting his players and implement his option-based offensive philosophy.
Adkins said the success of his previous rebuilding efforts weren’t the result of anything magical but the result of being able to coach some talented players in an established system and nurturing culture.
“You go in and love the kids and get them to trust you right off the bat and before you know it they start giving extra effort,” Adkins said. “They become closer teammates and start believing in each other. That’s kind our base for getting these things turned around.”